In a groundbreaking announcement, Wilco, an immersive upskilling platform designed specifically for application developers, has unveiled its inaugural public release and secured $7 million in seed funding. This round of funding was spearheaded by Hetz Ventures and saw participation from prominent investors, including Vertex Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Farhan Thawar, Shopify’s VP of Engineering.
In a recent survey conducted among software engineers, it was revealed that their primary career motivator revolves around embracing new challenges and continuous learning. “To forge successful careers, developers need to acquire and continuously refine a wide array of skills beyond just coding,” emphasized On Freund, co-founder and CEO of Wilco. “Many soft skills and specialized areas of expertise, such as team communication, debugging complex systems, and crisis management, are typically honed by developers only after countless hours of hands-on experience, which can be hard to come by.”
Wilco’s innovative platform introduces developers to a fantasy tech company, offering a game-like experience designed to accelerate their professional growth. Within this simulated “workplace,” engineers embark on quests that immerse them in lifelike scenarios while utilizing real tools and technologies.
One notable quest focuses on enhancing skills like debugging and effective communication. It begins with the developer receiving a notification via the office messaging application about a mysterious issue with the fantasy company’s software. The developer must then analyze data to identify affected users, recreate the problem on their own device, pinpoint the problematic code, and push the fix to the company’s code repository on GitHub. Virtual coworkers are available via the messaging application to offer guidance, simulating the modern remote work environment.
Farhan Thawar, VP of Engineering at Shopify, shared his perspective, stating, “One of the key challenges I’ve encountered in my career as an engineering leader is finding ways to nurture talent and ensure the continuous growth of each team member. That’s what got me so excited when I tried the Wilco platform — the realistic environment transported me back to my early days as a developer team contributor, and the engineering scenarios addressed precisely those abstract skills that are so challenging to teach. Moreover, Wilco has succeeded in creating an engaging learning experience through narrative and storytelling, making it a true game-changer for developer development.”
“Wilco empowers software engineers to take charge of their professional development,” affirmed Pavel Livshiz, General Partner at Hetz Ventures. “With Wilco, the opportunity to upskill is no longer reliant on the goodwill of a manager or the ability to take on time-consuming side projects. Engineers at any level can now consistently expand their skill set at an accelerated pace.”
Wilco also has a strong commitment to enhancing career prospects for underrepresented groups in the tech industry. Freund explained, “Today, even entry-level positions require some experience, and many opportunities are limited to those who are already ahead or have the privilege of a robust social network. Wilco’s mission is to empower every developer, regardless of their background or skill level, to unlock their full potential.”
The current quests available on Wilco’s platform, designed by a team with deep expertise in both software development and game design, cover essential software engineering skills and concepts. Additionally, the platform offers quests developed in collaboration with content partners such as New Relic, Applitools, and JFrog, allowing developers to gain real-world experience with popular development tools. Wilco plans to expand its offerings to include quests covering additional tools and technologies, as well as support for community-authored content.
Jemiah Sius, Director of Developer Advocacy at New Relic, praised Wilco’s innovative approach, saying, “Wilco has created an original way for developers to gain experience with tools. We are excited to provide developers with the opportunity to engage with our product in a real-world environment, enabling us to effectively communicate the value our product offers while allowing developers to rapidly acquire skills.”
Starting today, developers can join the waitlist to access the free upskilling platform, with access being granted over the coming days and weeks. Visit www.trywilco.com to learn more.
Wilco empowers software engineers of all experience levels to upskill by acquiring and refining hands-on skills within an immersive learning environment. The platform, designed to simulate the conditions at a tech startup, guides users through “quests” that encompass everyday engineering tasks, from deploying an app to troubleshooting production issues, using real-world tech stacks. By providing a safe, lifelike environment for accelerated upskilling, Wilco enables developers from diverse backgrounds to unlock their full potential. Founded in 2021, Wilco is led by On Freund (CEO), Shem Magnezi (CTO), and Alon Carmel (CPO).